Sometimes the most memorable experiences are the ones that aren’t on any itinerary. The experts at Adventure Life, a custom travel company with headquarters in Missoula, understand this and allow for the serendipitous in every carefully crafted vacation they plan.
RewardExpert recently spoke with Jenny Johnston of Adventure Life about the company’s origins and philosophy, travel packages, and the top 10 trips every traveler should have on his or her bucket list.
Inspiring Life-changing Experiences
Founded in 1999 by Brian Morgan, a Montana native with a passion for South American travel, Adventure Life has grown into a company with 26 employees offering custom vacation packages to destinations on all seven continents.
“As travelers ourselves, every Adventure Life staff member has their own background and stories. We’ve seen how travel has enabled us to grow and change personally, and we strive to help others have those same kinds of life-changing experiences,” Johnston said.
“We do this by personalizing each trip to the individual,” she continued. “But while we provide customized plans, we also leave room so they have the freedom to experience chance wildlife encounters, take random detours and connect with local residents.”
All-Inclusive Trips for Individuals and Groups
Individual and group trip packages are available, with land tour groups limited to a maximum of 20. “Typically, our groups have six to eight people,” Johnston explained. “Our small ship cruises only carry between 100 and 120 people. This allows us to provide individual attention because the ratio of staff to guest is low.”
Every Adventure Life vacation includes excursions, local guide services, accommodations and any necessary entrance fees in the trip’s cost. “Many if not all of your meals are included as well,” Johnston added. “The small ship cruises are full board. We try to leave some flexibility on land tours so you can choose your own local restaurant for an authentic lunch.”
Who is the typical Adventure Life traveler? “Someone who is looking for a unique experience,” Johnston said. “And someone who wants to have that experience alongside fellow travelers who are passionate in the same authentic and responsible way. These are the types of travelers who seek us out.”
Johnston encourages those who fit that description to take a look at Adventure Life’s destination packages and add a few of her top 10 to their bucket lists. “We have years and years of experience in these places,” she said. “We’re able to provide service that is above and beyond what other operators can.”
- Antarctica. “A lot of well-seasoned travelers do Antarctica as their seventh continent,” Johnston said. “It’s like another world, and a lot of people never have the opportunity to go there.” She recommends the Classic Antarctica Air Cruise, an adventure packed with daily shore trips, lectures and presentations, and plenty of Antarctic wildlife.
- Galapagos Islands. “It’s a place where you can have unparalleled wildlife encounters,” Johnston said. “It’s also a more active trip.” She recommends the Complete Galapagos Wildlife Cruise, during which travelers may encounter giant tortoises, enjoy kayaking and paddle boarding, and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station.
- Machu Picchu. “This is one of our most established destinations,” Johnston said. “We’ve worked in Peru since the beginning, and we have fantastic guides in this magical place.” She recommends the Machu Picchu by Train tour.
- Ecuador. “From the highlands and the volcanos to the mangrove forests, there’s so much to see,” Johnston said. During the Ecuador North to South tour, travelers will experience everything Ecuador has to offer.
- Patagonia. For epic landscapes and unique wildlife on display, Johnston recommends Adventure Life’s Classic W Trek through Patagonia. “It’s an amazing experience,” she said.
- Nicaragua. “It’s still relatively undiscovered,” Johnston explained, “and I think it would be great for travelers to experience this destination while it’s still under the radar.” On the Nicaragua Multisport tour, adventurers will spend their days kayaking, ziplining and biking as well as exploring local communities.
- Arctic. While small ship cruises are popular in the Arctic, Johnston recommends Adventure Life’s Artic Watch Wilderness Lodge tour. “You’ll actually stay in a lodge in the Arctic Tundra,” she said. “There is so much culture and wildlife. It’s the home of the narwhal and polar bear.”
- Africa. “It’s a wild place, but you can find so much more than safaris there,” said Johnston. “Our Namibia Adventure focuses on spotting the elusive Black Rhino.”
- Laos / Southeast Asia. “Anthony Bourdain’s show ‘Parts Unknown’ recently featured Laos, and the popularity of this destination is likely to increase,” Johnston said. She recommends visiting soon before it’s crawling with tourists and suggests the combination Best of Vietnam and Laos tour.
- Alaska. “People forget about all the incredible places we have in our own country,” Johnston concluded. “This is a domestic destination, and while it’s fairly easy to get to, it offers huge landscapes, lots of culture and exciting wildlife.” For the best the state has to offer, she recommends Alaska’s Glacier Bay and Island Adventure.